India’s record rice exports keep global prices in check

Following a surge in rice production, India has been exporting record quantities to countries across the world at a time when the staple food grain is in huge demand.

May 12, 2021

India’s record shipments, likely to go up to an all-time high of 16.2 million tons this year, will keep rising food prices in check.

Between April 2020 and January 2021 exports of non-basmati rice more than doubled over the same period in the previous financial year.

Lockdowns forced by Covid 19 have meant that even traditional exporters like Bangladesh have had to import rice in recent months to replace depleting stocks.

While exports from India surged, the Indian government also distributed record amounts of rice and wheat from the central pool as part of its efforts to alleviate the sufferings of people.

Record rice exports from India have been beneficial not only to the nation’s farmers but also to the international community by keeping prices in control at a time when the pandemic has impacted growth across countries. Bloomberg recently reported that according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, it is India’s record shipments, likely to go up to an all-time high of 16.2 million tons this year, that will help keep rising food prices in check.

Between April 2020 and January 2021 exports of non-basmati rice more than doubled over the same period in the previous financial year. Shipments of the food grain rose 115.44 per cent to $3.51 billion in April-January 2020-21 from $1.63 billion in the same period in 2019-20, wrote the Indian Express quoting data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

With prices of other grains like maize, soybeans and wheat climbing, rice, which constitutes the staple diet for most people across the world has come to the rescue with prices dipping over the last six months offering some relief to buyers. Lockdowns forced by Covid 19 have meant that even traditional exporters like Bangladesh have had to import rice in recent months to replace depleting stocks. Other major rice exporters like Thailand and Vietnam have also faced falling production because of excess rainfall or droughts. In addition, countries in West Asia and Africa have also been boosting their buffer stocks of rice in anticipation of coming food shortages as the pandemic singes the global economy. This has led to a build-up of demand for the vital food grain.

Significantly, while exports from India surged, the Indian government also distributed record amounts of rice and wheat from the central pool as part of its efforts to alleviate the sufferings of people during this trying period. India has various schemes including the National Food Security Act and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) to facilitate this distribution rapidly and equitably. In addition, special programmes like the Atmanirbhar Bharat Package for returning migrant labourers were launched to address the issue of food availability for those in distress.